Forcing Shrub Blooms Indoors

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Forcing Shrubs Indoors

(see also Forcing Bulbs Indoors)

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Forcing Bulbs Indoors

Forcing Blooms
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Forced forsythia blossoms

You can get an early breath of spring by forcing blooms indoors!

Forsythia is a flowering shrub that is famous for being so easily forced into bloom indoors.  In the page background here, is forced flowering cherry.  

If you don't have flowering trees or shrubs in your garden to cut boughs for forcing, don't despair! Along roadside ditches or along stream banks in areas near you that have "naturalized", you can usually find Pussy Willow or Witch Hazel for cutting.

Most of the force-able bulbs take advance preparation, but January or February are not too late for paper whites, amaryllis and Iris reticulata.

Depending on your zone, you can force shrub cuttings as early as January or as late as March.  Click the links below to go to the instructions.

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How to Force Branches from Shrubs for Indoor Bloom


Forced quince blossoms

You can cut boughs from your spring-blooming shrubs and trees to bring them inside, and “force” them to open. The best time to do this is between February and April, depending on your zone, when the temperature begins to climb above freezing for a day or two. 




Select branches that have the most buds and make a clean cut flush against the trunk of the tree so that no stub is left. This procedure ensures quick healing. Then seal all the cuts on the shrub with a mixture of antiseptic mouthwash and latex paint. 

After gathering the branches,  crush or split the lower stems a few inches from the bottom to increase the area exposed to water for better absorption. Then place the branches in a bucket or large vase of room temperature water. Beautiful blooms will begin to appear within a few weeks. And, what a sight for sore, winter weary eyes! 


Here are the best shrubs and trees for forcing indoors for early spring bloom.  Cutting times are based on zone 6, and will vary - earlier for zone 7 and up, and later for zone 4-5.


Name Zone Size Exposure Bloom Season Time to Cut Time to Bloom
4-8 20-30'H
x 15'W
Full sun White, early to midspring Feb-Mar 1-4 wks
Eastern redbud
Cercis canadensis
4-9 30'H x 20'W Full sun to light shade Pink, mid to late spring Mar 2-3 wks
Flowering quince
4-10 6-12'H x 6-12'W Full sun Pink, red, white, mid spring Feb-Mar 4 wks
Flowering Dogwood
Cornus florida
4-9 40'H x 40'W Full sun to part shade Yellow, mid to late spring Mid-Mar 2 wks
Cornelian cherry
Cornus mas
4-8 25'H x 25'W Full sun to part shade Yellow, early spring Jan-Mar 2 wks
5-9 8'H x 8'W Full sun to light shade Yellow, early to mid spring Jan -Mar 1-3 wks
5-8 4'H x 4'W Full sun to part shade White, mid to late
Mar 2-3 wks
Vernal witch hazel
Hamamelis vernalis
4-8 10'H x 10'W Full sun to part shade Red or yellow, late Jan to Mar Jan-Feb 1 wks
Mountain laurel
Kalmia latifolia
4-7 6'H x 6'W Full sun to part shade White/pink/rose, late spring-early summer Mar 5 wks
Kolkwitzia amabilis
4-9 6'H x 8'W Full sun to light shade Yellow throated pink, early spring Mar 6 wks
4-8 6'H x 8'W Sun or shade White or pink, early spring Mar 1-3 wks
Saucer magnolia
5-9 20'H x 20'W Part shade White to rose blossoms, early spring Mar 3-5 wks
Star magnolia
Magnolia stellata
5-9 15'H x 15'W Part shade White, early spring Mar 3-5 wks
Apple, crab apple
4-8 20'h X 20'w Full sun White to pink, spring Feb-Mar 2-5 wks
Mock orange
4-8 8'H x8'W Full sun to part shade White, late spring Mar 4-6 wks
Flowering almond, plum, cherry
5-8 25'H x 25'W Full sun White or pink, mid spring Feb 2-5 wks
5-9 30'H x 18'W Full sun White, early to mid spring Jan-Feb 4-5 wks
Rhododendron, azalea
4-9 3-12'H x 3-12'W Full sun to part shade All colors, early to mid spring Jan-Feb 4-5 wks
Pussy willow
Salix discolor
3-10 20'H x 10-20'W Full sun silvery catkins, early spring Feb-Mar 1-3 wks
Spiraea prunifolia
4-8 5'H x 4'W Full sun to part shade White, mid-Apr Mar 4 wks


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